Charlotte Hornets 2021 Player preview: Can Nick Richards make the final roster?

Charlotte Hornets, Nick Richards. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets, Nick Richards. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

With the start of the 2021-22 season right around the corner, Swarm and Sting will take a look at each member of the Charlotte Hornets roster and preview our expectations for each player heading into the season.

In this first installment, we’ll be looking at Nick Richards, a player who has a lot to prove during this year’s training camp and preseason. Richards was the second center drafted in the second round of the 2020 NBA Draft with the 42nd pick.

Nick Richards is on the outside looking in as he heads into the Charlotte Hornets preseason.

The majority of Richards’ minutes in his rookie season came with the Greensboro Swarm. In his nine games with the Swarm, Richards averaged 26.3 minutes and posted a solid stat line of 17.0 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks per game. Nine games in the G-League is a very small sample size but those numbers are promising for the 2nd year big man.

While his G-League numbers were good, they didn’t transition over to the NBA at all. Richards featured in 18 games for the Hornets, averaging 3.5 minutes per game, and posting a stat line of 0.8 points and 0.6 rebounds per game. Basically, he didn’t do a whole lot of anything for Charlotte.

As Richards heads into the preseason, he has a lot of work to do if he wants to solidify his spot on the team. While the center position is notoriously one of the weaker spots on the team, Richards still finds himself on the outside looking in.

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With the addition of Mason Plumlee, and rookies Kai Jones, and JT Thor, Richards is looking to be the odd man out on a roster that already included PJ Washington and Vernon Carey Jr. Plumlee and Washington will receive most of the minutes at the center position, and Jones and Thor will likely spend a lot of their time in the G-League.

Because of this, expect Charlotte to be keeping a close eye on the competition between Richards and Carey Jr. For me, the edge currently goes to Carey Jr. The offensive skill set that he brings to the court is far superior to anything Richards brings at the moment.

If Richards wants to catch the eye of head coach James Borrego, he needs to prove that he can be an adequate rim protector, something that the Hornets currently don’t have on the roster.

You could argue that he could be stashed on the Swarm as the staff may have hope in his development, but the Hornets staff spent high draft capital on Jones and Thor so you would expect them to receive the majority of the center minutes for the Swarm.

Due to this, it’s hard to imagine Richards being on the final 15-man roster on Oct. 20. If he does end up on the roster, it’s highly unlikely that he sees a lot of minutes during this season for the Hornets.

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